Lecturer Marshall Hunt assists community through tax work, gets students involved
Hunt, a 1969 graduate of the College of Business who now teaches in the department, works to make the tax system less intimidating.
With two W-2s in hand, Marshall Hunt, a then 18-year old student with two jobs, had questions about his taxes. So he went straight to the source: the Internal Revenue Service.
“I had started to fill them out, but I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was correct,” said Hunt, a 1969 UM-Dearborn alumnus and 30-plus year lecturer in the College of Business. “I was a pizza delivery guy and I sold magazines door to door. The man behind the Dearborn IRS counter treated me very well, guided me through my return and answered my questions.”
Now Hunt is the one people come to with questions. With nearly 35 years IRS experience, an appointment to the IRS Advisory Council, and 17 years and counting with Detroit’s Accounting Aid Society, you can see why.
“When it comes to taxes, he knows pretty much everything,” said Adil Asadullah, a junior majoring in accounting. “And he wants to teach us what he knows.”
Asadullah was one of a dozen College of Business students who Hunt advised at a recent Tax and Taco Tuesday event in COB’s Bell Lab. Throughout the day, accounting students—who have taken and passed the IRS Volunteer Training Certification—gave complimentary assistance to students and community members-in-need with filing federal, state and city returns.
Hunt said community work is important. People, especially those inexperienced with the tax system, may be intimidated by the IRS name or the tax filing process in general.
Hunt—who serves as director of tax policy and advocacy for Detroit’s Accounting Aid Society—has encouraged students to get involved with community tax work for a decade. He hosts campus-based tax assistance events, leads an academic service learning course (ACCT 360) and shares opportunities to volunteer with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free tax help to people in need.
Currently, 67 UM-Dearborn students are trained and certified as VITA volunteers, with 27 of them in ACCT 360, helping to prepare returns through the program at 20-plus sites around Detroit. Hunt said, on average, 20,000 returns are filed and the average annual income of those helped is $12,000.
“I may have tax knowledge now, but there was a time when I had to seek out help too. I want people to know the help is out there; and I’m pleased that UM-Dearborn students are giving their time to provide some of that assistance,” Hunt said. “It’s good for your resume, good for practical field experience and good for discovering how your skills can be used in a way that benefits others.”
About a decade into his IRS career, Hunt got involved with volunteering in the Detroit community through the VITA program after seeing an advertisement.
“It’s eye opening and humbling to see the small amount of money that people live on,” he said. “I had been assigned at work to help a special agent in a major criminal investigation; that didn’t scare me. But, there I was at VITA, scared to death that I would mess up someone’s home heating credit. When you are on the ground and into the neighborhoods, you realize how important these things are.”
Hunt, who also has a master’s degree in taxation, said he found his career path through an accounting class, his UM-Dearborn faculty like Professor Emeritus Richard Czarnecki and an IRS opportunity through a campus internship office.
“I was enticed because it was the IRS. On one of my first assignments I was told it would be undercover work. Sounded interesting. What they really meant was having my coat over my head to better see bank records on the microfiche machine,” said Hunt with a laugh. “But that didn’t matter to me. I really enjoyed what I was doing and working with the field agents. The IRS hired me full time after graduation.”
Hunt—who is married to Nancy Hunt and has a stepson, Gregory Peterson—said he is grateful for his Michigan education, his years in the IRS and his time instructing in the classroom, all of which have enabled him to best serve the people in his community. Hunt also helps the community as president of the Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit
“I used to think that tax was my purpose. I enjoy it and I’m good at it, but I’ve realized that isn’t quite right. My purpose in life is to help people. And tax happens to be vehicle I use to do that.”